It’s Not Dark Yet: Bob Dylan And Existentialism

By Larry Fyffe

God having cast Adam and Eve from Eden, the Deists returned the favour by
casting God out of the Universe.

With God uninvolved, two major wars occurring, ending with the dropping of the atomic bomb, existence is seen by some social thinkers and artists as having no purpose;  meaningless with no direction;  amoral, with a nobody cares attitude.

Life’s purpose, in the end, is then what you choose to make of it: individual freedom of choice is now completely unencumbered …. unless, of course, you have the misfortune of being under the control of  people stronger than you are:

“Princess on a steeple and all the pretty people
They’re drinking, thinking that they got it made
Exchanging all precious gifts
But you’d better take your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal”
(Bob Dylan: Like A Rolling Stone)

It takes grace under pressure, but a non-altruistic existentialism is a view of the world that singer Bob Dylan resists:

“I’m a-goin” back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison  are flooding their water
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the execution’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the colour, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and speak it and think it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it”
(Bob Dylan: A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall)

Love and hope can get you through tough times:

“If not for you
Winter would have no spring
Couldn’t hear the robin sing
I just wouldn’t have a clue
Anyway it wouldn’t ring true
If not for you”
(Bob Dylan: If Not For You)

Death being inevitable, it ain’t easy, but happy times are for fond remembering:

“She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writing what was in her mind
I just don’t see why I should even care
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.”
(Bob Dylan: Not Dark Yet)

What is on the site

1: Over 360 reviews of Dylan songs.  There is an index to these in alphabetical order on the home page and an index to the songs in the order they were written in the Chronology Pages.

2: The Chronology.  We’ve taken all the songs we can find recordings of and put them in the order they were written (as far as possible) not in the order they appeared on albums.  The chronology is more or less complete and is now linked to all the reviews on the site.  We have also recently started to produce overviews of Dylan’s work year by year.     The index to the chronologies is here.

3: Bob Dylan’s themes.  We publish a wide range of articles about Bob Dylan and his compositions.  There is an index here.

4:   The Discussion Group    We now have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook.  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

5:  Bob Dylan’s creativity.   We’re fascinated in taking the study of Dylan’s creative approach further.  The index is in Dylan’s Creativity.

6: You might also like: A classification of Bob Dylan’s songs and partial Index to Dylan’s Best Opening Lines

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews.

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2 Responses to It’s Not Dark Yet: Bob Dylan And Existentialism

  1. Babette says:

    Here comes the light:

    “I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from”

    Our funny brain tries to make us forget and regain a stage of innocence.
    (The garden of Eden)

    That line is brilliant.

  2. Babette says:

    I have mostly been in the scientific field all my life, so excuse me for my way of handling this subject.

    1: How many of you were thinking of:
    “Here comes the sun ” of George Harrison?
    when I wrote “Here comes the light”?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwmVfewqu7I
    2: How many of you were singing a few lines.
    3: How many felt a little happier?
    That is what culture can give us.
    4: What happens when we combine Bob Dylan and George Harrison, and spice up with 3 other good friends and artists. Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. We get the most beautifull songs about friendship and what friendship can do in the black moments of your life.

    Handle with care:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8s9dmuAKvU

    End of the line:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwqhdRs4jyAd

    Roy Orbison and George Harrison are both dead. It is hard to loose good friends but you have to remember the bright moments and forget the dark.

    Thank you mr. Tony Attwood for having introduces me to Travelling ‘Wilburrys on this homepage.

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